Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and elder people: involvement and prevention measures
Elderly people and risk of intection
Although no direct relationship between elder people and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been shown, older people suffering from COVID-19 infection are more likely to develop severe complications. This is related to the aging and chronic diseases that this group suffers most often.
In fact, according to the European Society for Geriatric Medicine, the analysis of current data shows that mortality rates in infected patients over the age of 80 are about 15 %; whereas this value decreases to falls to less than 0.5 % in people under the age of 50.
Elderly people, in particular those who are more fragile and with chronic pathologies (respiratory, heart, kidney, or diabetes, among others), must follow strict preventive measures to minimize the risk of infection. In addition to the usual principles, some guidelines can be followed which reduce a possible infection such as:
- Home confinement. Elderly people, especially those over the age of 80, must be confined to their homes and shy away from the street, except in emergency situations. In the event of symptoms or other medical problems, they should contact their Primary Care Center and follow the guidelines given.
- Restriction of visits and contact. Visits to this group should be reduced to those of their carers or family members who care for them, who look after their daily needs. They should avoid contact with family and friends with symptoms of respiratory infections, as well as with children and adolescents.
- Extreme hygiene measures. Both home cleaning and hygiene measures should be enhanced to prevent contagion or infection.
- To do physical exercise. It is important that they continue, despite being at home, doing the same or similar physical activity: they can take a walk or do a simple stretching routine indoors to help the body stay active.
Guidelines for caregivers and family members
People or relatives caring for the elderly must maintain a holistic view of the needs of this group. Also, being in constant physical and social contact with the people in charge, they must enhance some of the measures to avoid being a transmission vehicle. Thus, they must be concise in hygiene, especially of the hands, using soap and water or antiseptic solutions, and drying with disposable wipes.
It is also important not to neglect communication. Despite confinement at home and the restriction of visits to the elderly, it is important that socialization is not lost and that the community can be isolated. For this reason, it is advisable to promote non-face-to-face communication channels, such as telephone, video conferencing, WhatsApp or social networks.
In the event that the caregiver has any symptoms related to COVID-19 (cough, fever or general malaise), it is advisable to delegate to another caregiver or family member their responsibilities to prevent infection and consult with the specialist.
Guillén del Castillo